Sister Doreen’s Reflections
October is moving into November.
October is nearly over, a month full of holidays and celebrations, of days and nights ushering in cooler days and nights, almost a pause before we begin to experience the beginning of winter months. For me it is a time for taking a deep breath, of enjoying the turning of leaves, the falling of leaves and then the reality of the beginning of bare trees and gardens at the end of their prime.
Anne of Green Gables said, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers!” And so am I!
October ends with the ghosts and goblins of Hallowe’en and ushers in the celebration of All Saints and All Souls, and with these celebrations we begin to know that Fall is over, and Winter is about to begin.
Autumn has much to teach us about being content to wait, to linger, and to learn to enjoy the inactivity of our own empty seasons, of letting go, and giving away, and of waiting to be replenished.
Macrina Wiederkehr wrote: “Autumn is a good season to recall some of the fallen leaves of past memories. Bring out old picture albums. Gain new life and energy by remembering people who were once sheltering trees, places where we went for shade and refreshment. Their leaves may have fallen, but we can still live in the shade of their memories.”
In taking a deep breath at the end of October, I discovered a poem about “Falling Leaves” with thanksgiving from the team at the Stuart Center for Mission. They wrote this poem:
“Leaves teach us how to let go with confidence, trusting in the promise, grateful for the journey past nourishing the emerging future.
Leaves teach us how to work together in a community of vines and branches, offering shade from the heat, blowing fresh air to displace despair, carrying seeds of hope to places ready to believe.
Let us learn from the leaves … looking back to count our graces, imagining forward to what is possible, being present to the opportunity we have today” To Act Justly, To Love Tenderly, To Walk Humbly” (Micah 6:8)
In their book “The Circle of Life: The Heart’s Journey Through the Seasons” Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr wrote what was for me a very profound prayer in celebration of Autumn called “Prayer of Acceptance”. It seemed to me to be something that perhaps we will all resonate with and find many blessings by sharing it together in this reflection about Autumn now that it is near the end of October as I write this. They begin the prayer with an opening sentence: “Open me today to the teachings of the season of autumn.”
“When I accept only the beautiful and reject the tattered, torn parts of who I am, when I treat things that are falling apart as my enemies,
Walk me among the dying leaves, let them tell me about their power to energize Earth’s soil by their decomposition and their formation of enriching humus.
When I fear the loss of my youthfulness and refuse to accept the reality of aging,
Turn my face to the brilliant colours of autumn trees, open my spirit to the mellow resonance of autumn sunsets and the beauty of the changing land.
When I refuse to wait with the mystery of the unknown, when I struggle to keep control rather than to let life evolve,
Wrap me in the darkening days of autumn and encourage me to wait patiently for clarity and vision as I live with uncertainty and insecurity.
When I grow tired of using my own harvest of gifts to benefit others,
Take me to the autumn fields where Earth shares the bounty of summer and allows her lands to surrender that abundance.
When I resist efforts to warm a relationship that has been damaged by my coldness,
Let me feel the first hard freeze of autumn’s breath and see the death it brings to greening, growing things.
When I neglect to care for myself and become totally absorbed in life’s hurried pace,
Give me courage to slow down as I see how Earth slows down and allows her soil to rest in silent, fallow space.
When I fight the changes of unwanted, unsought events and struggle to keep things just as they are,
instead of letting go,
Place me on the wings of traveling birds flying south, willing to leave their nests of comfort as they journey to another destination.
When I fail to say, “thank you”, and see only what is not, instead of what is,
Lead me to gather all the big and little aspects of my life that have blessed me with comfort, hope, love, inner healing, strength, and courage.
Maker of the Seasons, thank you for all that autumn teaches me. Change my focus so that I see not only what I am leaving behind, but also the harvest and the plenitude that my life holds. May my heart grow freer and my life more peaceful as I resonate with, and respond to, the many teachings this season offers to me.”
The season of Autumn is near its end, and it is time to face another way.